Returning to our magical evening at the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium for its first ever, Asian Lantern Festival.

In part 1, Zoo Asian Lantern Festival Illuminates Wildlife, we paused in the African Savanna after seeing lion, tiger, zebra and elephant creations.

The sun had set and it was dusk, with the sky showing off its own beautiful light show of color.

But, that was only about halfway through the zoo’s winding pathways and 44 different lantern displays of animals, flowers, decorative archways, and tunnels. Some of the best were yet to come!

I particularly enjoyed those associated with the aquarium’s inhabitants, including schools of fish, jellyfish, penguins, seals and a colossal octopus.

Lantern displays became even more striking as darkness fell, with dramatic lighting, animated movements and color changes.

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Where the Wild Things Glow


At the top of the hill in the African Savana was a group of giraffe lanterns. Several slowly moving their heads and long necks.

Nearby, were lantern displays of antelope and hyenas. So much to see and enjoy, I wish I could share each and every one here!

Right around the bend, in the Tropical Forest, was one of the Asian Lantern Festival’s most impressive displays — a massive butterfly tree.


For perspective, each of those daisies under the tree were about five to six feet tall!

Several of the bees slowly moved their wings too. As you can imagine, I was all a buzz lol!

Overhead, the large butterflies continually flapped their wings, as the entire display gradually changed from cool to hot color shades. It was stunning! We stood there mesmerized.


But then we noticed a group of people gathering and pointing at the cheetah exhibit. As I explained in Lantern Festival Illuminates Wildlife, almost all the live animals at the zoo were off exhibit and in their enclosures for the night. That is, with the exception of some big cats.

Cheetahs on the Run

The Pittsburgh Zoo has five nearly full-grown female cheetah cubs and their mother. Highly endangered, in the last 100 years the wild cheetahs population has declined by 90%!

Because of the cheetahs’ extensive zoo habitat — filled with tall grasses and bushes — I’d never gotten a really good look at them. But that night, they were racing throughout the habitat! Cheetahs’ unique body structures allow them to achieve incredible speeds of up to 70 mph. It was incredible to see!

One by one they went into their den, where a special observation window allowed us to see them flop on top of each other. We were so fortunate to be at the right spot at the right time! However, you can see them anytime on Cheetah Webcam.

Illuminated Creatures Come Alive

By then, it was fully dark. In the Safari Plaza people were grabbing something to eat or a snack like ice cream. There were also interactive light displays, like a giant musical keyboard the kiddos seemed to particularly enjoy.

Everyone seemed to pause in front of a giant peacock to watch it spread it’s tail feathers and go through a series of color patterns.


Next, we followed the pathway through The Islands and Jungle Odyssey. Lurking around the bend were a number of alligators — or were they crocodiles? Each slowly opened and closed their menacing jaws as we walked by.


After that, were a series of creatures and cactus lanterns you might see in a desert — like this coiled snake.


Or this colorful lizard. He reminded me of some of the iguanas seen while on a Galapagos Vacation Adventure.

Luminous Marine Life

Lining the pathway towards the aquarium, were a line of sea turtle lanterns appearing to swim towards us. Another favorite display, we stopped to enjoy them for several minutes. Catch a video of them on my Instagram page.


At the aquarium, was a large lantern display of a crab with bubbles floating up into the night sky.


A group of children were giggling and dancing in front, trying to catch the frozen nitrogen bubbles. I confess that it took some restraint on my part not to join in the fun, lol!


Not sure what this sea life creature is? A green shrimp? What do you think?


Continuing down the pathway were my two favorite lantern displays of the entire Asian Lantern Festival.

First, was this school of exotic fish and different types of coral. They appeared to be swimming upstream, with gentle animated movement of their fins. I captured that on video too.


And the fish slowly changed shades of color.


Directly across the way, numerous electric blue jellyfish lined the path.


Each must have been five to eight or more feet tall! And, if you think the jellyfish were enormous, they were dwarfed in size by a monstrous octopus!


Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t give any reference to his sheer colossal size! Perhaps he’s a relative of the mythical sea beast, the kraken?

Water’s Edge Glows

Also inhabiting the Pittsburgh Zoo’s Aquarium are several arctic species of penguins. Regular readers know I have a “thing” for penguins.


I love seeing the tall Emperor and comical Macaroni Penguins at the aquarium. You can see them too on Penguin Webcam.

Or the African Penguins while Bird Bonding at the National Aviary, also in Pittsburgh. And of course, cheering on our Pittsburgh Penguin hockey team lol!


But, best of all was swimming with the endemic Galapagos Penguins while on a Galapagos Islands Cruise in Nature Wonderland!


Also living at Water’s Edge at the aquarium are several polar bears. They have an enormous pool outside and seem to love Pittsburgh’s winter weather.

A clear tube pathway passes directly through the pool, so that visitors can watch the bears swim underwater. A crowd-pleasing, not to be missed experience during regular zoo hours.


Sea lions also live at Water’s Edge, who seem enjoy entertaining visitors with their antics both above and below the water line. Behind the sea lion lantern another school of fish also glowed in the night.

Back at the Start

As we headed back towards the zoo entrance, there were more interactive light displays for visitors to enjoy,


Most enticing to me were these illuminated swings. I want one, don’t you?


Lining the final stretch of pathway, were gigantic, electric pink flamingo feathers.


After 90-minutes, our magical evening came to an end, back at the 100-foot dragon where we started our stroll.

The Asian Lantern Festival runs through October 30, 2021 at the Pittsburgh Zoo. We enjoyed it so much, Mr. Buzz and I are thinking of returning again with friends. If you live nearby, or have a lantern show at a local botanic garden or zoo, I encourage you to visit.


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